Phase II study of cetuximab in combination with FOLFIRI in patients with untreated advanced gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma (FOLCETUX study)

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The purpose of this phase II study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of cetuximab combined with FOLFIRI as a first-line treatment of advanced gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma.

Patients and methods

Untreated patients with confirmed advanced gastric or gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma received cetuximab at an initial dose of 400 mg/m2 intravenously (i.v.) followed by weekly doses of 250 mg/m2, CPT 11 180 mg/m2 i.v. on day 1, LFA 100 mg/m2 i.v. followed by 5-FU 400 mg/m2 i.v. bolus, and 600 mg/m2 i.v. 22-h continuous infusion on days 1 and 2 (FOLFIRI) every 2 weeks, for a maximum of 24 weeks, then cetuximab alone was allowed in patients with a complete response, partial response, or stable disease. Antitumor activity was assessed by computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) at baseline and after 6 weeks, and further by CT alone or CT and PET every 6 weeks.


Thirty-eight patients were enrolled (median age 63.5 years, range 39–83; median Karnofsky performance status 90, range 70–100; stomach 89.5% and GEJ 10.5%; locally advanced disease 13.2% and metastatic disease 86.8%). All 38 patients were assessed for safety and survival, and 34 patients were assessed for overall response rates (ORR). The ORR was 44.1% [95% confidence interval (CI) 27.5% to 60.9%]. The median time-to-progression was 8 months (95% CI 7–9). At the median follow-up time of 11 months, 55.3% of patients were alive, with a median expected survival time of 16 months (95% CI 9–23). Grade 3–4 toxicity included neutropenia (42.1%), acne-like rash (21.1%), diarrhea (7.9%), asthenia (5.3%), stomatitis (5.3%), and hypertransaminasemia (5.3%). There was one (2.6%) treatment-related death.


The combination of cetuximab and FOLFIRI is active in gastric and GEJ adenocarcinoma. The higher toxicity appears to be limited to neutropenia.

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